New Police Chief Starts First Day Greeting Students at Kimberley Park
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
SEPTEMBER 1, 2017 – This morning, the new police chief stopped by Kimberley Park Elementary to meet some of the police officers of tomorrow – as well as the firefighters, brain surgeons and other leaders of the future.
Police Chief Catrina Thompson chose to start her first day as the new chief of the Winston-Salem Police Department at Kimberley Park where she greeted students with a high five as they arrived. Twelve Winston-Salem police officers joined her at the lot where buses were dropping drop off students.
Asked what he thought about meeting the police chief, third-grader Zion Clinton said, “It felt good.”
Asked whether he knows what he wants to become when he grows up, Zion said he does – a police officer.
Kimberley Park is also a magnet school bus stop. So, some of the students who met Thompson were on their way to other schools. First-grader Demarius Taylor was headed to Diggs-Latham Elementary School with his brother Santrez, who is in the fourth grade.
Demarius said that he, too, wants to be a police officer when he grows up. Santrez wants to be a firefighter. When asked what it was like to meet the new police chief, Santrez said, “Good.”
For Thompson, starting her first day with young people was a way of showing where her priorities are.
“I thoroughly believe we need to invest in our children,” she said. “We have got to invest in the future leaders of our county.”
She thinks it’s important to support and encourage young people and let them know that, when they grow up, they can be whatever they want to be – whether that is a police officer, a teacher or a member of the city council.
Fifth-grader Heaven Gist wants to be a brain surgeon.
Thompson said that, during the coming school year, she would like to go to other schools as well.
She chose Kimberley Park for her first visit in part because she and Principal Amber Baker know each other through Leadership Winston-Salem, a nonprofit organization created to educate, connect and energize leaders to serve and improve the community. Both participated in the 2016 class.
Baker said that, when Thompson told her that she was thinking about visiting schools, she invited her to Kimberley Park and was pleased she chose it.
“I was on board for us to be the first school to be able to do that,” Baker said. “I was really grateful.”
The other police officers on hand all high-fived students and visited with them as they came in.
When he arrived, school board member David Singletary greeted each of the officers and said, “We appreciate you being here.”
Later, Singletary said that he was glad to see Thompson and the other officers there providing such a positive example.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful,” he said.
Patrick Saddler, who is the new Dean of Students at Kimberley Park, said he thought it was great that students were able to spend time with police officers in such a positive way. He said it delivers the message: “We are here to help you. We are here to protect you.”
“I think our youth need that,” Saddler said.